Hi guys, this blog post is the result of a chat that I had with a friend of mine today. He called me asking for an advice about team leaders within scrum teams. Right after we booked a dinner, I understood that this is a very interesting topic that cannot be discussed over the phone :D :D
As soon as we met, he told me that his company decided to insert Team Leaders in his teams. I just smiled because I knew what was coming. So I asked:
“What is the biggest reason behind this? Why did you think about this strategy?”
He explained they feel they spend too much time with 1:1’s and performance reviews not allowing them to focus on their jobs. Afterwards I asked: “Ah, so you think that getting people to do what you do not want to do is a better way to improve the company as a whole?”
He seemed a bit embarrassed and continued:
“No, it´s not about us, this is a better way to give more attention to people and help them to improve themselves and their career development plan”. I reacted to this as following:
“What factors do you have in your possession that lead you to think that a manager knows better what a person needs for his improvement than the person itself?” He did not really know what I meant so I explained:
“Managers think they know the best what people need in order to develop their skills, but in reality is the person that knows where are her/his strengths and where to ask for a support, not other way around!” Then he said:
“Yes but we need to have a person within the team that has an overview how people perform because HR demands to have an annual performance review”. My immediately thought was:
“Ah, it comes from HR! Performance Reviews Of course!!!!” I just told him that perhaps it is time to rethink their way of management. I asked if he really believes that annual performance reviews bring any value to employees !!! He replied:
“I do not think it brings much of the value but we need to know how people perform in order to distribute bonus, salary increases and all perks. So I replied:
“Ok makes sense, but if you are trying to empower teams to be independent, why not delegate that to them?” Naturally, he was shocked! :)
“Let me explain: you, as a manager, you have your budget, you know how much money you can spend on salary increase, why don’t you talk with the team and give the constraints to them.” For example:
“Tell them that you have 10% of budget increase to be distributed within the team. Ask them who deserves what and allow team to decide that. They are the ones knowing who performed the best! We do not need any manager or HR person saying what percentage they deserve! In our companies, we are trying to reward a success as a team but what you do is destroying a team spirit.” Take this example:
“Imagine that you, as line manager, set objectives for a developer to develop his JAVA skills. Imagine that during the development process ,the team needs his strong skills in scripting to solve some problems they have. The team as a whole was able to deliver fantastic results but you will rate this guy as a poor performer because he did not developed any skills in JAVA!!!! Do you see where am I going?” He replied:
“Uh, you are so right! I cannot imagine the face of the poor guy that will get a really crappy review whereas in reality he did a fantastic job to help the team”.
“Exactly!!! You should empower the team to take their own decisions. The same applies for training and bonus. Ask the team what perks does each team member deserves. This is a complete radical approach, so I am not asking you to do it in whole organisation, instead, try it in a small team and see the results. Learn, change and adapt. The old way of management is outdated and obsolete. One of the big problems is that we are implementing agile in our organisations but we forget other part of the organisation still uses old policies that ruin the work that we are trying to achieve”. He was completely surprised with the outcome of our conversation. I guess he expected something else but I think I succeeded because he promised that he would give it a thought about it.
In a conclusion, the title of my post does not mean that we should get rid of managers. Instead, we should get rid of managers´ job role. We are dealing with super intelligent people that do not need some random person telling them how they need to do their jobs and most importantly, suggesting what they need to improve as professionals.
If you want to know more about companies that are adopting a NoManager approach take a look here and here. Do you know any other organizations that are doing the same? Share with me.
“We need more leaders in our companies and less managers!”